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Lumberjack girls use defense to notch two wins

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team is building up some positive momentum for the section playoffs thanks to a pair of wins last week. The 'Jacks (10-9-1) defeated Grand Rapids-Greenway 1-0 at the CARC last Thursday before defeating Procto...

Carley Esse
CEC sophomore Carley Esse fires a wrist shot past goalie Anja Morris for a goal against Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall Monday night. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team is building up some positive momentum for the section playoffs thanks to a pair of wins last week.

The 'Jacks (10-9-1) defeated Grand Rapids-Greenway 1-0 at the CARC last Thursday before defeating Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall 4-2 at home Monday.

Coach Mike Bushey has talked about a need for his team to be "perfect defensively" in past weeks and it was hard to argue with Thursday's win.

"Grand Rapids has kids who can score, and we did a great job taking care of our zone," Bushey said. "The goalies played great. We played against some dynamic scorers and you have to take those kids out of the game. Our girls did everything they were supposed to do and it was a nice team effort."

Despite killing off three penalties including two in the third period, the 'Jacks held GRG to just 22 shots on goal, while making Jessie Ryan's unassisted goal at 10:18 of the first period hold up for the win.

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Alyssa Acheson earned the shutout in goal for CEC, stopping all 22 shots she faced. The 'Jacks put 24 shots on GRG goaltender Sydney Helmbrecht.

Three nights later, CEC defeated the Mirage in a game with section seeding considerations. Again, the 'Jacks were good in their own end, holding Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall to just 17 shots on goal.

However, one of them came just 20 seconds into the game, and PHM's Reilly Fawcett used it to beat Katie Beckman for a quick 1-0 lead.

Before the period ended, though, the 'Jacks had erased the arrears. Kara Cresap scored exactly three minutes after Fawcett's goal, and Caitlin Lilly put CEC ahead with a goal at 12:30.

The teams played a scoreless second period before Carley Esse gave CEC a 3-1 lead at 9:45 in the third period to give the 'Jacks some breathing room.

"The kids didn't panic, they got their feet underneath them, and made some nice plays," Bushey added.

Their lead came in handy at 12:49, when Justina Lindberg cut the CEC lead to 3-2. However, it took Lilly less than a minute to restore CEC's two-goal advantage with the final tally of the night.

CEC outshot PHM by 25-17 for the night, with Beckman making 15 saves for the 'Jacks.

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With the homestretch of the regular season fast approaching, CEC has an important section seeding matchup on Thursday at the CARC against the Duluth Northern Stars. Following that contest, the 'Jacks travel to Cambridge-Isanti Saturday.

"The kids feel good about how they have been playing," Bushey added. "The reality of our section is that there are a lot of competitive teams, and it's just going to take a break here or there to win these games. Our kids understand these things and understand the importance of doing their jobs."

Related Topics: CARLTONCLOQUETESKOHOCKEY
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